Athletics: British sprinters aim to build on promise

For the first time since the heyday of Linford Christie, British 100 metres runners hog the limelight in tonight's Bislett Games.

Traditionally the meeting has built its blue riband sprint race around Americans but this year the attraction is the competition between Dwain Chambers and Mark Lewis-Francis. The pair are the fastest men in Europe this season and few doubt both will improve on their 10.03sec and 10.07sec performances.

Lewis-Francis is the man in form but the former world junior champion knows his unbeaten record will be in peril, even though Chambers has not yet won a race. On Tuesday the European champion showed signs of returning form when he knocked 0.12sec off his 2003 best when second in Trikala, Greece.

This year both Maurice Greene and the world record holder, Tim Montgomery, have passed on the opportunity to contest the first IAAF Golden League meeting of the year, meaning Chambers can grab the spotlight.

Having slept on his second-place performance in Trikala, he set off for Oslo convinced his form has now changed for the better. "I'm getting there," said Chambers, adamant it is what happens at the World Championships in August rather than one night on the Grand Prix circuit which counts. "My neck was on the line on Tuesday and will be again on Friday."

A rejuvenated Iwan Thomas is also given his chance over 400m at Golden League level, Ireland's James McIlroy is in the 800m 'B' race while Anthony Borsumato and Steve Surety contest the 400m hurdles.

Jo Pavey, whose outstanding 5,000m run and second place staved off relegation fears for the British women in last weekend's European Cup final, tackles a much tougher field. Joined by Kathy Butler, the pair face a field including 10 Africans led by the world indoor 3,000m champion Berhane Adere, of Ethiopia. Russia's world champion, Olga Yegorova, also competes.

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